Sudan's gum arabica ©Ashraf Shazly/AFP. Source: ANBA Brazil-Arab News Agency - Photo: 2023

The War in Sudan Is Coming After Your Coca Cola

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK, 2 May 2023 (IDN) — Despite wall-to-wall coverage on our news shows and radio broadcasts, wars being fought today around the world seem so distant, so remote. Soundlessly, they rage on, and peace seems far from near.

Could anything bring the war to our door?

The answer, you might not realize, is “yes.”

The conflict in Sudan has left international consumer goods makers without a key ingredient for fizzy drinks and other things from chewing gum to pharmaceuticals.

About 70 per cent of the world’s supply of gum arabic, for which there are few substitutes, comes from the acacia trees in the Sahel region that runs through Africa’s third-largest country, and which is being torn apart by fighting between the army and a paramilitary force.

Companies dependent on the product, such as Coca Cola and Pepsi, say they have stockpiled supplies, often keeping between three-to-six-months’ worth to avoid being caught short.

Depending on how long the conflict continues, there may well be shortages of the finished product on the shelf. Current stockpiles could even run out in five-to-six months.

Global production of gum arabic, worth $1.1 billion, lies mostly in the “gum belt” that stretches 500 miles from the East to the West of Africa.

Right now, it looks impossible to source additional gum arabic from rural parts of Sudan because of the turmoil and road blockages, said Mohamad Alnoor, who runs Gum Arabic USA, which sells the product as a health supplement.

Mohammad Zarrag, an exporter of gum arabic, underscores the point: “No other ingredient can do what gum arabic does. People have tried but have not been successful.” [IDN-InDepthNews]

Image: Sudan’s gum arabica ©Ashraf Shazly/AFP. Source: ANBA Brazil-Arab News Agency

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